Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Conspirator: Movie Review

The Conspirator: Movie Review

The Conspirator

Rating: 6/10

James McAvoy, Robin Wright, Evan Rachel Wood, Tom Wilkinson, Justin Long, Kevin Kline

Director: Robert Redford

Back to the time of Lincoln's assassination for this very familiar tale of a lawyer torn between duty and a client who may be innocent but facing charges which will see her hanged.

McAvoy stars as Frederick Aiken, a returned Union war hero who's now working as legal counsel as they all cope with the aftermath of events following the assassination of US President Lincoln at Ford Theatre.

Seven men and one woman, Mary Surratt (Wright) are arrested for the murder and conspiracy and Aiken is given the job of defending Surratt of the charges.

But despite initial reticence to defend her, believing it's abhorrent to all he holds dear, Aiken soon begins to realise that she is innocent and fights tooth and nail to ensure she lives.

However, it appears the odds are against them.

An historical drama this may be but in many ways, it's a very traditional run of the mill legal drama; the tenets of every John Grisham style drama are there; the client who's being framed, the young lawyer who doesn't want the case but realises it's his chance to shine - they're all on hand.

And yet thanks to a masterful cast; particularly McAvoy and Wright's Surratt whose  demure outlook makes you empathise with her from the get go; this film is watchable - even if it does fall into the worthy but dull category at times.

In many ways, it feels like you're watching a play with a cast who're acting their socks off but following a legal drama adaptation. Redford's direction doesn't bring a lot of life to the story (he even uses a series of montages of paper headlines at one stage) but it's a well told conspiracy story which doesn't quite reach the heights it aspires to.

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